January 28, 2019 (BOSTON) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Toxics Action Center released the following statement today after the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) responded to a petition from the environmental groups requesting stronger regulation of toxic Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water. DEP agreed to set a drinking water standard for five of these harmful chemicals but declined to regulate PFAS as a class.
“PFAS contamination is endangering public health across Massachusetts,” said Heather Govern, Director of CLF’s clean water program. “Setting a protective limit is an important first step, as is DEP’s commitment to evaluate every option to protect the public from the entire PFAS class of chemicals. But there are thousands of these dangerous compounds in the environment, and CLF will continue the fight to rid them all from our water.”
In October, the groups petitioned DEP to adopt new drinking water standards that protect the public from the dangers of PFAS. Public water systems in Massachusetts will soon be required to monitor for at least five PFAS compounds and treat water with unsafe levels of these toxic chemicals. DEP also plans to solicit public comments on whether to adopt a treatment technique and regulate PFAS as an entire class of chemicals in the future.
“Bay Staters deserve to know that the water coming out of their tap is safe to drink,” said Shaina Kasper of Toxics Action Center. “This enforceable standard is a step forward, but regulating 5 of the thousands of chemicals in the toxic PFAS chemical family falls short of truly protecting Massachusetts residents”
PFAS have been linked to a variety of severe health problems including kidney and testicular cancer; impaired liver, pancreatic, and immune system function; thyroid disease; fertility and pregnancy issues; high blood pressure; and growth and learning problems in infants and children.
PFAS have been found throughout Massachusetts, including in drinking water and surface water on Cape Cod, in Westfield, and in groundwater near the former Naval Air Station in Weymouth.
You can read DEP’s full response here.
Experts are available for further comment.